Publication 117, Filing a Claim for Refund

October 2014

  • Filing a Claim
  • Required Information
  • Where Do I Send My Claim
  • Additional information

If you believe you have paid more sales or use tax than you owe, you may file a claim for refund. This publication explains how to file a claim and what you should expect.

What's the deadline for filing a claim for refund?

Whichever of the following dates occurs last is your filing deadline:

  • Three years from the due date of the return on which you paid too much tax. Payment of use tax to the Department of Motor Vehicles is deemed to be the filing of a return.
  • Six months from the date you overpaid tax.
  • Six months from the date a determination (billing) became final.
  • Three years from the date we collected an involuntary payment, such as from a levy or lien.

Be sure to file your claim for refund by the applicable deadline. If you don't file on time, you will not receive a refund, even if you paid too much tax.

How do I file a claim?

You must send us a written claim for refund. You can use the form in this publication (BOE-101, Claim for Refund or Credit) or send us a letter. Your claim must state all of the following:

  • The specific reasons you paid too much tax.
  • The excess tax amount you paid, if you know it. If you're not yet sure of the amount, you may file for an unspecified amount. If you can, please break down your total overpayment into state, local, and district tax amounts (specify the district or districts).
  • The reporting period or periods for which you paid too much tax. Your claim can cover more than one reporting period.

You must sign and date your claim. Please include your phone number so that we can contact you if we have questions or need more information.

Note: While your claim is pending you must continue to pay the full amount of tax due with your returns. Do not take a credit on your return for the amount of your claim. If you take a credit on a current return before we approve your claim, we will bill you for the balance due with the return, plus applicable penalty and interest.

How much detail should I provide?

Reason for overpayment

Be specific. For example, if you find you did not take a deduction for $1,550 in nontaxable sales for resale, your claim would state that you paid too much tax because you didn't take a $1,550 sales for resale deduction on that return. If you are filing a claim disputing an audit determination, be sure to state why you believe the tax assessed in the audit is not due.

Claims for more than one tax reporting period

If your claim covers more than one reporting period, please indicate how much excess tax you paid in each period, if known. Please break down each period's overpayment into state, local, and specific district tax amounts.

Supporting documents

You may wish to send supporting documents along with your claim, such as copies of invoices or exemption certificates. This will help us process your claim more quickly. However, it's not necessary to attach extensive documentation to your original form or letter. We will let you know if we need more information.

You should file amended returns when you discover an overpayment on a return. Copies of original returns should be used whenever possible with corrected figures entered to the side of the original figure in a different color than the original figures. Attach a cover letter or BOE-101 explaining the changes to the amended return, and write the notation "AMENDED RETURN-DO NOT PROCESS AS ORIGINAL" on the face of the return. Never use a new return to apply for a refund.

Where do I send my claim for refund?

Claim for current reporting period

Current period claims are unusual, but could arise if you made prepayments that exceed the amount you owe with your return. Please attach your claim for refund to the current return you are filing and mail it to the usual address.

Claim for prior reporting periods

Send your claim for refund and supporting documents to: Refunds Section, MIC:39, Board of Equalization, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-0039. (For certified mail or delivery service: 450 N Street, MIC:39, Sacramento, CA 95814.)

How will I know whether my claim has been approved? How long does it take?

We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your claim. We review claims as quickly as possible, generally in the order received, but the process may take several months.

If we approve your claim, it will take an additional four to six weeks for the State Controller's Office to send you a check and a Notice of Refund. During this time, we must determine whether you owe any tax to the state. If you do, we may have to transfer all or part of your refund to cover that debt. In addition, refunds of $100,000 or more must be approved by the Members of the Board of Equalization, which adds time to the process. We will pay interest on your refund if it meets certain criteria (see Regulation 1703, Interest and Penalties).

If we deny your claim, we will send you a letter and a Notice of Denial of Claim for Refund. If you disagree with our decision, you have further appeal options with our agency or you can file a lawsuit. These options are explained in the Notice and in publication 17, Appeals Procedures: Sales and Use Taxes and Special Taxes.

If we have not acted on your claim within six months of the date you filed it, you may file a lawsuit to recover the amount you believe you overpaid (see publication 17, Appeals Procedures: Sales and Use Taxes and Special Taxes).

Note: This publication summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when the publication was written, as noted. However, changes in the law or regulations may have occured since that time. If there is a conflict between the text in this publication and the law, decisions will be based on the law and not on this publication.


1703 Interest and Penalties


17 Appeals Procedures: Sales and Use Taxes and Special Taxes

76 Audits

Sales and Use Tax Law sections (Revenue and Taxation Code)

6591.5 Interest rates

6902 Claim; limitation period

6902.3 Overpayments from levies or liens

6904 Form and content of claim